I invented and patented a better drum tuning key!
Fans have been asking many questions about my past…
At what age did you decide you wanted to become a musician?
When I was about 11 or 12 my father (who was a policeman) took me to the Canton Ohio Police Boys Club where my brothers and I joined the Drum and Bugle Corp. (I chose the drum over the trumpet at that moment) The D&B Corp mostly marched in summer parades and I also joined the St. Paul grade school band. A couple years later my father would take me to the music store to buy a drum set.
I was about 17 when I decided I wanted to be a professional musician. I was given the Chicago “Live at Carnegie Hall” double album that was boxed with a huge photo album. That music and the pictures were a turning point for me.
Who or what were your musical influences while growing up in Ohio.
My fellow musician friends were a great influence on me. They turned me on to great jazz and fusion music like The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. My high school band director Bill Hutson instilled the importance of perfection and introduced me to classical and experimental composition like John Cage. The local music store owners,The Gattuso Brothers were very supportive of my career giving me work teaching and even instrument sales.
I was always very interested in music from a young age. My parents had a big stack of 45’s and 78’s ( that would be records for you youngsters) that I loved to play. The styles covered everything from big band s and crooners to pop music. I think that’s where my varied music taste originates. We had a small chord organ that I used to always play after school. When I got older my friend Al Wittig told me I had to practice at least 4 hours a day, so I would sit in the basement for 4 hour chunks and play along to records or study my lessons. Bill Severance was my drum teacher with great new ideas from Berklee College of Music. (Amazingly I don’t remember my mom ever complaining). I played to whatever records I could afford. Some of the rock & R&B bands; Grand Funk Railroad, The Temptations, Jackson Five, Chicago, Beatles, Blood Sweat & Tears, Moody Blues, Zappa, Led Zep, The Doors, Aretha, Pink Floyd, Rundgren, Springsteen, CSN&Y, Sly and the Family Stone, James Taylor, O’Jays and so many more…
My Elton John record was ‘Madman Across The Water’. Being in Top 40 or “cover” bands was a fantastic way to learn songs. I would need to decifer the drum and back ground vocal parts or sing the lead part. Bandleaders always insisted that I sing a song. Being a singing drummer proved to be an incredibly lucrative asset.
Bands that you played with during your H.S or College years.
I was always in a band in my later high school years and always working a job and /or in a band in my college years so I did not attend a college full time. In High School (St. Thomas Aquinas in Louisville ,Ohio near Canton) I was in Marching Band, Orchestra, Jazz band and the Choir. Away from school I played in top 40 & dance bands, jazz bands, original bands, even a Romanian band. Some of the names were; The Sorge Bros Band, Hard Times, Sneeze, Constellation, Punch and The Force. During my post school years I studied privately and attended music seminars when available. I was near Kent State where the music scene was thriving. When I moved to Los Angeles I studied theory and piano at the Dick Grove School as well as privately with David Garibaldi and Ron Edwards for voice. I still continue to work with private instructors in voice, guitar, drums and percussion.
What types of music do you like listening to? What music interests you at this point in your life?
I like too many types of music to list! I’ll listen to almost anything but I think I get the most listening enjoyment from Jazz. I’ve been checking out Trance and the Electronic remix scene. I listen to pop music and some of the more melodious Hip Hop. I still listen to all my classic favorites like Average White Band , Earth Wind & Fire, anything Quincy Jones, The Police, Sting and classic rock bands. Nevertheless, I am always searching thinking I’m going to discover the next audio treasure but never satisfied. It’s the Eagle Scout in me!
What do you like most/least about touring?
Least; eating out. I loathe the thought of searching for a new mystery food every day. You order from a menu but really have no idea what’s coming to the table unless it’s a place you’ve been to before. People offer to cook for us but it’s the same problem. There’s nothing like your own kitchen. BTW, Bob and Davey are great cooks. Davey has been known to make a meal for the band if we have a kitchen at our disposal. Travel; Airports are not fun and busses are bumpy. Drivers in Europe will scare you. The reality is that traveling is part of my job so I learn to make the best of it. It is probably where I listen to the most music and do the bulk of my reading.
Most: The concert, new places, great hotel beds, nice people and exploring.
What do you do with your off time?
In my time away from the Elton John tour I stay very busy. I have a studio where I write and record music and lyrics for my own projects or record parts for other people. I hope to finish a CD one of these days! With today’s technology I can record drums, percussion and even vocals in my studio and send it anywhere in the world on a CD so someone can “fly it in” to their project. I do recording sessions and gigs in and around Los Angeles too. I work with other artists when time permits. I enjoy working on my house doing little construction projects and spend a good deal of time mountain biking in the local mountains and canyons.
Are you married?
How old are you?
Do you really want to know?
Where is Elton playing next?
The best way to see where Elton is playing next is at his website; www.eltonjohn.com or www.pollstar.com. They have the most current concert listings.
I hope my answers were informative and fun. Thanks as always for your interest and support.